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What is Love?


What is love? Is love positive affection for another? Is love physical attraction? Is love wanting to spend every waking moment with someone? How do you define it? How do you recognize it? I've spent time studying love and my understanding of it has shifted dramatically over the years.


The most basic definition of love, according to Webster's dictionary, is:


love

[ləv]

NOUN

  1. an intense feeling of deep affection: "babies fill parents with feelings of love" ·

  2. SIMILAR: fondness tenderness warmth intimacy attachment

  3. a great interest and pleasure in something: "his love for football" · "we share a love of music"


  • Strong affection for another arising out of kinship or personal ties, such as maternal love for a child.

  • Attraction based on sexual desire, affection and tenderness felt by lovers.

  • Wholehearted liking for or pleasure in something.

  • To feel love for, cherish, show love to; delight in, approve.

  • To be in love, have a passionate attachment.


In researching love, you will learn that Ancient Greek philosophers identified six forms of love: familial love (storge), friendly love or platonic love (philia), romantic love (eros), self-love (philautia), guest love (xenia), and divine or unconditional love (agape).


More basically defined, I think, true love is "the unselfish, loyal and benevolent concern for the good of another." This version of love is akin to "agape" love--unselfishly wanting the best for another. In today's culture, we throw the word "love" around like confetti. We "love" coffee, we "love" things that bring us joy, we "love" those who hold similar opinions, and we "love" things that please our senses. We are quick to "love" what serves us, what tickles our fancy, what brings good to our lives. We are quick to dislike anything else. We love someone as long as they do what we want, look how we want, and say what we want to hear. We discard anyone who speaks differences, disagrees with our views, or doesn't fit the imaginary mold in our minds.


What I have come to realize, is that is not love. Love does not fade with time. Love does not depend on external factors. Love does not balk at differences. Love is curious, love is kind, love seeks to understand, love accepts, love grows with the ones it holds affection for, and love forgives faults. Love in its purest form is something few of us really get to experience or encounter, I think. Some of us get to experience this from our mother, or maybe another caregiver. The love of a mother, if it is pure, does not fade when disagreements come or decisions contradict values. Love stands the test of time and the winds of change. True love.

Imagine if we tried to love ourselves with this amazing grace, and in turn loved everyone we met this way. What if, instead of judging others, we simply loved them? I have come to believe that love is the key to life. Love is the solution to all life's problems. Love overcomes ALL struggles. This is a big idea--bigger than you and me. Bigger than "loving our neighbor," and bigger than loving those closest to us. This is loving ourselves, loving the earth we live in, loving the creatures and people who inhabit it, and loving the Creator of all we see. If we but love.....what a different world it would be.


I challenge you today to explore the true meaning of love, and to push yourself to love outside of your comfort zone--love yourself and others--MORE. What is holding you back? Identify your obstacles and see if you can push past them. What do you have to lose? I would venture a guess that the potential gain far outweighs any potential loss. You stand to gain freedom. Joy. A radical paradigm shift. Closer relationships. Increased depth of connection. And so much more!


LOVE


The heart fills with it to bursting,


Flutters, doubles its beat anxiously,


Or even falters and stops.


The body thrives on it,


And will even whither and die


If deprived of its beauty and warmth.


It can be sensed,


Felt with the spirit,


Expressed in words, song, rhyme, objects, and touch,


Yet can never be truly seen or captured.


It is elusive yet all encompassing.


It is invisible yet ever present.


It is timeless and eternal, unconditionally giving of itself.


It is free of cost yet wholly priceless.


It is truly indescribable—


There are no words in any language to adequately express it.


It can exist in equal purity in a death row prison cell


Or in the front pew of a holy sanctuary.


It can exist in one cherished or in one abused—


It is no respecter of persons.


It does not care what color your skin is,


What size your body is,


What opinion the world has of you,


What voice you speak in or what words you use.


It only knows that you are worthy and beautiful just as you are.


Written by Kristi

April 10, 2005


" The countless generations

Like autumn leaves

go by:

Love only is eternal,

Love only

Does not die..."

-Harry Kemp


Oxford Illustrated American Dictionary. Oxford University Press. 1998. p. 485.

"Love Definition & Meaning". Merriam-Webster. 27 December 1987. Archived from the original on 17 May 2019. Retrieved 30 September 2021.

"Love Definition & Meaning". YourDictionary. Archived from the original on 12 July 2022. Retrieved 12 July 2022.

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